You may not look at your water heater very much, but you rely on it every day. When it malfunctions, it’s noticeable, and it can be expensive to repair.
If you feel completely lost when it comes to water heater maintenance, this blog post will give you the basics and let you know when it’s time for replacement.
Welcome to Water Heater 101!
What maintenance should I perform on my water heater to keep it running smoothly?
Before performing any maintenance on your water heater, first shut off the power and read your owner’s manual.
- Check for signs of thermal expansion (Twice per year) – Thermal expansion is the greatest contributor to early water heater failure. If your home has a closed water supply system (one that has a one-way valve to keep water from expanding back into the city’s water supply), your water heater may be at risk. Check for signs of thermal expansion by watching for bulging in the top or bottom surfaces of your tank and signs of deformity in the relief line or connection nipples at the top of your tank. If you have a closed water supply system or you’ve already experienced water heater failure due to thermal expansion, you probably need a thermal expansion tank.
- On gas units, check your water heater burner (Twice per year) – The burner should appear blue with yellow tips. If it’s mostly yellow or if it’s sooty under there, your flue may be clogged. This is a dangerous situation, and you should call a technician to inspect the appliance.
- Flush the water to remove built-up sediment (Twice per year) – By removing built-up sediment, you’ll improve your unit’s efficiency and avoid harmful corrosion. This process is especially important for Hoosiers living with Indiana’s hard water! Learn the steps to flush your water heater.
- Test the pressure-relief valve (Twice per year) – If your water is over 80psi, we recommend a pressure-reducing valve on the system. To test an existing pressure-relief valve, lift the valve’s handle, and let it snap back. This should release a burst of water into the overflow drainpipe. If it doesn’t, your valve needs replaced.
- Have your water heater serviced by a technician (Every 2 years) – A leaking water heater can cause expensive property damage. Having a qualified professional inspect your water heater on a regular basis will help you avoid costly repairs in the future and extend the life of your appliance.
How long does a water heater typically last?
The average life expectancy of a water heater is 12 to 15 years.
How do I find out how old my water heater is?
Installation dates can typically be found on the “rating plate” or manufacturer’s label attached to the side of your water heater. If you don’t see a specific date, write down the serial number and contact your manufacturer to find out how to decode the age of your water heater from the serial number. You may also be able to find out your manufacturer’s serial number decoding process with a Google search.
How do people know when it’s time to replace their water heater?
If your water heater is more than 12 years old, has a leak around the base of the tank or is not working as efficiently, it’s probably time to replace it. Replacing the unit can improve your energy usage and lower your monthly utility bill. However, before committing to replacing the unit, be sure to check that you haven’t blown a fuse or tripped a breaker, causing your unit’s malfunction.